King urges intensified US peace efforts

1176.jpgKing Abdullah on Tuesday urged the US to intensify its efforts in the coming weeks and months to boost the Middle East peace process.This is particularly important after President George W. Bush recently called for an international meeting to advance peace efforts, the King said during a White House meeting with the president.

King Abdullah, who returned home yesterday from the tour, which included Canada, welcomed the call, describing it as “a step in the right direction”.

Announcing the peace meeting, expected later this year in the US, Bush said it would be chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and attended by envoys from Israel, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Arab nations.

He said the participants would “look for innovation and effective ways to support further reform” among the Palestinians and provide diplomatic support towards establishing a Palestinian state.

In Tuesday’s meeting with the president, King Abdullah reiterated that the envisaged efforts should result in tangible progress in the peace process and lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The King told Bush that a just and comprehensive peace to which the Arab people aspire should emanate from a solution that addresses all outstanding issues between the Palestinians and Israel, including final status questions.

The Arab Peace Initiative has clearly demonstrated the Arab will for peace and coexistence with Israel, he said.

During the meeting  which included a dinner hosted by the US president, King Abdullah expressed appreciation for the US administration’s commitment to offer assistance to the Palestinians.

He also asserted Israel’s responsibility for taking confidence-building steps, including an end to all settlement activities.

The King underlined “an immediate need to ease restrictions on Palestinian people’s movement and release all tax money due to the PNA”.

Talks also addressed the situation in Iraq. King Abdullah stressed Jordan’s support to strengthen Iraq’s security and unity and to engage all Iraqi parties and groups in the national reconciliation efforts and political process. He described these endeavours as the  “key to success”.

On bilateral relations, King Abdullah expressed Jordan’s appreciation for  US assistance to the country, which he said has contributed to Jordan’s economic development. The King noted progress in trade and investment levels between Jordan and the US and expressed hope for strengthening bilateral economic relations.

President Bush expressed the US’ commitment to supporting efforts to establish regional peace and stability on the basis of a two-state solution and said Washington appreciated Jordan’s efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Earlier Tuesday in Washington, DC, the King discussed with Rice international efforts to move forward peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

He called for supporting Palestinian institutions and the living conditions of the people through “prompt and comprehensive international support to the PNA”.

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